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WESTFORD — Welcome to the Jan. 15 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.
Get to know Kristen Las, Westford’s next Town Manager
fter 14 and a half years of service, a successor has been chosen to take the reins from Town Manager Jodi Ross.
Kristen Las, Shrewsbury’s assistant town manager of community development and health and human services was selected to succeed Ross. Board members voted and signed Las’ contract and gave a farewell to Ross during a Dec. 27 meeting.
Westford Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman and Tyngsborough Town Administrator Matthew Hanson were also finalists for Ross’ position.
Her term is slated to begin on Feb. 1, with Ross serving as acting town manager through January.
VIDEO: Westford Academy Honors Orchestra Winter Concert
Westford COVID-19 Update: Much of Mass. Considered High Risk
Middlesex County, along with Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Franklin, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties are not considered high risk. Berkshire, Essex, Hampden and Hampshire counties are still considered low risk.
The state’s seven-day average positivity rate rose to 13.39% on Thursday, marking a a dramatic uptick from 9.58% the previous week.
A number of school districts have reinstated mask advisories, including Arlington, Boston, Newton and Watertown. Westford has not issued an advisory at this time.
The XBB 1.5 subvariant of omicron has become the dominant strain of the virus in New England. The new strain is combination of two pre-existing omicron subvariants.
Experts say current evidence indicates that existing vaccines, tests and medications all appear effective against the new subvariant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 75% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New England are caused by the new subvariant. The variant now accounts for approximately 30% of new cases throughout the U.S.
Early data from the World Health Organization suggests those who caught COVID-19 before the original omicron wave, which hit New England in November of 2021 are more susceptible to infection from the new subvariant than those who were sickened with another omicron strain or subvariant.
Local student shares love of science with underserved students
A Westford student hopes to share her love of biology with her peers.
Prajna Upadhyaya, a Westford Academy junior, created a series of blogs and workshops titled “The Art of Biology,” where Upadhyaya breaks down a number of topics related to the human body.
Her project, she says, began in 8th grade, where her passion for medicine blossomed. She currently volunteers at the Red Cross in Worcester, as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire.
“I really liked [biology] because I could learn more in depth about it. In 9th grade, I took the initiative to learn more,” she told WestfordCAT in an interview.
She continued, “A lot of this stuff is not stuff you’d learn in classes, it’s something different that would spark your interest.”
A number of topics, including “The Perception of Color” and “The Science Behind Blood Types” have been published. Upadhyaya notes her topics are selected based on personal experiences between her and her family.
“All of my blog posts are based on my own experiences,” she said. “It resonates with the problems I’ve had in my family.”
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